Responding to a Mental Health Emergency

Emergency situations do not happen that often. But when they do occur, it is helpful to know how to respond immediately and effectively to a student in distress. A mental health emergency can include one or more of the following situations or observed behaviors:

  • A suicidal attempt, gesture, threat or plan
  • A homicidal attempt, gesture, threat or plan
  • Aggressive or unmanageable behavior that poses a threat to self or others
  • Loss of contact with reality
  • Inability to care for oneself

Tips to utilize when confronted with an emergency situation:

  • Stay calm, to respond more effectively and to reduce the student's anxiety or agitation
  • If possible, provide a quiet, private place for the student to rest while further steps are taken
  • Talk to the student in a clear, straight-forward manner
  • If the student appears to be a danger to self or others, do not leave student alone
  • Make arrangements for appropriate intervention or aid

Who to call when confronted with an emergency situation:

You may consult with Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) counselor faculty at (415) 338-2208 during hours of operations.

If CAPS is open, you can walk the student to the CAPS for an emergency consultation or appointment

If the mental health emergency occurs after the CAPS is closed, call UPD (University Police) at 911 on your campus land line. If you call from your cell phone, dial (415) 338-2222.

In the event of a mental health emergency that requires immediate attention because the student is unusually aggressive, unmanageable or a threat to self or others, calling 911 from your campus land line will connect you directly to UPD.